Anybody else frustrated with the state of fonts in Linux today?
It seems there are two distinct issues: the availability of high quality fonts under Free licenses, and the infrastructure for installing, managing and accessing those fonts.
There has been some progress on both fronts. Bitstream’s Vera, and the new Liberation font work (kudos to Red Hat for driving that effort) are steps to provide us with a clean, crisp set of high quality fonts with good hinting that can be installed by default. There is also good work being done by, amongst others, SIL International on a free font license framework, and fonts to go with it. I hope the community can build on these efforts to expand the font coverage to the full Unicode glyphset, preserving their essential character and metrics.
The second problem, the infrastructure and API’s to manage fonts on Linux systems, is more complicated. Here’s a mail to the ubuntu-devel list describing the situation and calling for leadership from the community in helping to address it.
We need a clean, clear way of:
- Packaging fonts, and knowing which packages to install to get which fonts.
- Cataloguing fonts, and allowing people to manage the fonts that are immediately accessible to them or loaded by default, everywhere.
- Making all of this sane in a world where you MIGHT want to read a document in Korean using a French desktop. In other words, where there need to be a lot of fonts available, even if most of those fonts are not used all the time.
Most of the long list of fonts I see in OpenOffice are lost on me, I don’t know when I would choose any of them.
Sounds like a mess, but then again it also sounds like the sort of Gordian knot that the flaming sword of free software can slice straight through, given strong leadership and a forum for the work. Who will step up?